5G subscriptions to top 2.6bn, cover 65% population end 2025

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Ericsson expects the global number of 5G subscriptions to top 2.6 billion within the next six years, driven by sustained momentum and a rapidly developing 5G ecosystem. The forecast is included in the November 2019 edition of the Ericson Mobility Report, alongside a range of other forecasts with an end-of-2025 timeline and communications service provider insights. 

Average monthly data-traffic-per-smartphone is forecast to increase from the current figure of 7.2 GB to 24 GB by the end of 2025, in part driven by new consumer behavior, such as Virtual Reality (VR) streaming. With 7.2 GB per month, one can stream 21 minutes of HD video (1280 x 720) daily, while 24 GB would allow streaming 30 minutes of HD video with an additional six minutes of VR each day.

The report also projects that 5G will cover up to 65% of the global population by the end of 2025 and handle 45% of global mobile data traffic.

2019 is the year leading communications service providers in Asia, Australia, Europe, Middle East, and North America switched on their 5G networks. South Korea has already seen a big 5G uptake since its April 2019 launch. More than three million subscriptions were collectively recorded by the country’s service providers by the end of September 2019.

China’s launch of 5G in late October has also led to an update of the estimated 5G subscriptions for year-end 2019, from 10 million to 13 million.

In South east Asia and Oceania, it is expected that by 2025 4G (LTE) will have become the main mobile technology, with 63% of the total number of subscriptions even though today WCDMA/HSPA is still the region’s dominant technology. While 5G subscriptions are expected to make up 21% of all subscriptions in the region by 2025.

Service providers and ICT players will now have a bigger role to play in addressing new 5G-enabled use cases and applications, that are presented by the rise of 5G subscriptions. According to another of Ericsson’s recent studies, the ‘5G for business: a 2030 market compass´ report, up to USD 700 billion of 5G-enabled business-to-business (B2B) value can be addressed by service providers by 2030, which corresponds to 47% of the total 5G-enabled market expected to be served by ICT players. For Singapore, the total projected revenue value of 5G-enabled digitalization by 2030 is USD 6.8 billion. Almost half of this value (up to USD 3.2 billion) can be addressed by telecoms service providers.

Given its current momentum, 5G subscription uptake is expected to be significantly faster than that of LTE. The most rapid uptake is expected in North America with 74% of mobile subscriptions in the region forecast to be 5G by the end of 2025. North East Asia is expected to follow at 56%, with Europe at 55%.

Other forecasts include: total number of cellular IoT connections now seen at five billion by the end of 2025 from 1.3 billion by end 2019 – a compound annual growth rate of 25%. NB-IoT and Cat-M technologies are estimated to account for 52% of these cellular IoT connections in 2025. Year-on-year traffic growth for the third quarter of 2019 was high at 68% , driven by the growing number of smartphone subscriptions in India, the increased monthly data traffic per smartphone in China, better device capabilities, an increase in data-intensive content, and more affordable data plans.

Customer insights shared in collaborative feature articles

In a collaborative article written with SK Telecom, the report takes a detailed look at how the South Korean service provider is applying a 5G cluster deployment strategy centered around providing a premium 5G network experience and innovative services to customers in selected geographical locations. 

Another article, co-authored with the MTN Group, examines how the South African-based service provider’s focus on user experience and customer loyalty has resulted in measurable network improvements and commercial gains in Rwanda and Ghana.

The report also takes an in-depth look at service providers’ tariff plans, revealing that most service providers who have launched 5G have priced 5G packages about 20% higher than their nearest available 4G offering. Lastly, there is an article describing how automotive IoT meets different use case requirements of automotive and transport applications.

Read the full Ericsson Mobility Report November 2019.

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